Since March 14 when the majority of classrooms shut down and the school world decided that going virtual was the answer to keeping our children safe and providing an education in the time of a pandemic, it has been a wild ride for companies selling to school districts. Some companies are floundering, while many are reporting the highest sales in their companies’ histories. Schools have changed the way they purchase. Old habits have flown out the window. Needs have changed. Sales are unpredictable, and new opportunities abound. And through it all, one thing has remained constant. Constant change.
Perhaps it is time to take stock in where you are. How are you doing? How is your team? My guess is that you haven’t slowed down to really plan in the past six months. Things have been changing so rapidly that all you have had time to do is react. But during all this madness, now is the perfect time to slow down and think.
I’m not going to tell you that this is the new normal. It’s anything but normal. But the fact is, this is the way things are now, and things will be this way for a long while. If you are wondering when things are going to go back to the way they were, they aren’t. Eventually, we will get a vaccine and things will normalize, and we’ll discover what our new normal looks like. But this isn’t it. The pandemic has forced many changes on the school world, and the business world from which you operate. Many of these changes will stick. Schools will continue to use much more technology than they did pre-pandemic. Virtual learning will continue to be a big part of instruction. Businesses will continue to have many of their employees work from home. Most of your sales calls and presentations will continue to be made virtually. Eventually, things will level out somewhere in the middle of where they were and where they are now. But for the time being, you need to look at how things are and plan your attack. And as you do, it is important to keep a couple things in mind.
The mental health of your team is important. If you have been running hard for six months, chances are your team has too. When was the last time you gave them time off? Are you still allowing vacation time? Are you encouraging mental health days? If you push your team too hard, several things will happen. You will lose creativity. You will lose productivity. You will lose team moral. You will lose company culture. You will lose your team.
And what about you? How long have you been burning the candle at both ends? Are you taking frequent breaks throughout the day? Are you eating regular meals? Are you getting the required amount of sleep? Are you able to get a change of scenery, or are you locked in your home unable to get away? It may sound like an oxymoron, but the harder you work, the less productive you become. If you are working hard (and I’m sure you are), you have to find a way to play hard. Like it or not, the pandemic isn’t a sprint. It is a marathon. Understand that this pandemic is going to be with us a while, and plan accordingly. When everything around you is moving at 100 miles per hour and opportunities are hitting you left and right, it is the perfect time to stop and take stock in the situation.
In the EdTech space, this is the greatest opportunity of our lifetimes. CARES Act money, district and state money and the need for a whole new level of technology have combined to create a near free-for-all in technology spending. Sales cycles have accelerated, and schools and districts are making purchasing decisions almost daily. Companies are having to figure out new ways to handle all the sales volume. And thanks to you and your EdTech brethren, children are getting educated.
To borrow a line from Ferris Bueller, Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t slow down every once in a while to look around, you could miss it.
About the author
Charles Sosnik is an education journalist and editor and serves as Editor in Chief at the Learning Counsel. An EP3 Education Fellow, he uses his deep roots in the education community to add context to the education narrative. Charles is a frequent writer and columnist for some of the most influential media in education, including the Learning Counsel, EdNews Daily, EdTech Digest and edCircuit. Unabashedly Southern, Charles likes to say he is an editor by trade and Southern by the Grace of God.